WESTFIELD, Ind. – Lining up at left tackle during Colts training camp means squaring off against Yannick Ngakoue, one of the NFL's most consistently disruptive pass rushers over the last half-decade.
So Bernhard Raimann, the rookie third-round pick from Central Michigan, is seeing everything in Ngakoue's toolbox – speed rushes, speed to power rushes, spin moves, cross chops – and is viewing the challenge as a way to make himself better as he acclimates to life in the NFL.
"It's a huge honor to go against one of the elite pass rushers in the league," Raimann said. "Getting to compete against him every single day is incredible. Sometimes he gets the best of us but it just makes us better as pass protectors, and it's gonna get us ready for the season."
The Colts were sold on Raimann's athleticism, talent and work ethic when they selected him with the No. 77 overall pick in the 2022 NFL Draft. He's assimilated into an offensive line with high standards set by veterans Ryan Kelly, Quenton Nelson and Braden Smith, and on the field, he's been exactly what the team expected so far.
"Super athletic, which is kind of what we hoped for and anticipated," offensive line coach Chris Strausser said. "He's a ways away in terms of being at the level we need him to fundamentally with the technique stuff, but he makes progress. Just his athleticism is fairly unique.
"... There's just so many stinking details that go into playing offensive line at this level. There's almost really no way you can come in here and not say what I just said right now, be a guy that's a ways away detail-wise. It's assignment stuff, it's footwork stuff, it's hands — it's a combination of all that stuff."
In that sense, Raimann – who converted to left tackle from tight end during the COVID-19 pandemic at Central Michigan – is right where the Colts figured he'd be a week into his first NFL training camp. He's still competing with Matt Pryor to be the team's starting left tackle, but he's also getting some work at other positions along the offensive line so he can be as versatile as possible.
"You know, we're moving him around just a little bit, but he's handling that well," head coach Frank Reich said. "Smart guy. He has a lot of energy out there on the field. He finishes well, bends well. So, he's making really good progress."
And through those matchups with Ngakoue and a constant focus on those details Strausser mentioned, Raimann has a tremendous opportunity to grow over the next few weeks.
"Every single rep is a challenge and you either rise to the challenge or you crumble," Raimann said. "Every day's a learning experience and even if you do make a mistake, the good thing is you get to come back the next day and take advantage of it and compete your butt off."